Morning Coffee – Thu, Nov 26

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Kyle Lowry leads Raptors to victory over Cavaliers | Toronto Star

So the Raptors’ 103-99 win over the Cavs on Drake Night in front of 20,140 fans at the Air Canada Centre should yield a good result on Casey’s litmus test. It could just be an affirmation of what was learned through the first two months of last season: That when Lowry is on his game, when he’s aggressive and scoring and when he looks MVP-worthy, he and the Raptors are a tough team to beat. Lowry scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half and added six assists to take his team to its third win in a row, improving them to 10-6 and toppling the Eastern Conference-leading Cavs. Their three-game win streak was snapped and they fell to 11-4. James had 24 points, eights assists and six rebounds in the loss. Casey said Lowry handled the game well in that second half. “It’s always a concern when he gives you that look sometimes and it’s trouble,” he said. “But he did a good job of closing out. “He kept the pace and he kept the tempo and made stops, which was big. Closing out the game is something we didn’t do in a couple games last week. We had a couple of lapses but they weren’t very long. We have to shorten those gaps or lulls, whether it’s on the defensive end or offensive end.”

Raptors take down the King on home court | TSN

Toronto doesn’t win that game without Kyle Lowry – the lifeblood of this team. The simplest explanation for the Raptors’ success, when they’re succeeding, is Lowry. When he’s at his best, which has been the case for most of the season’s opening month, they’re capable of reaching a level that would be impossible otherwise. On Wednesday, he was the best player on a court that included James. Toronto’s all-star point guard shot 9-for-12 in the second half, when he scored 20 of his game-high 27 points and recorded five of his six assists. Lowry just so happens to lead the NBA in steals but the four he was credited for against the Cavaliers actually do him a disservice. He generated at least three or four more possessions for his team, out of nothing. One of them came towards the end of a dominant third-quarter. Lowry, the smallest player on the floor, dove into a crowd of Cavaliers to secure a loose ball and call a timeout. Coming out of the huddle, the 6-foot guard barrelled his way into the lane, got Cavs forward Tristan Thompson to bite on a pump fake and completed the play with a lay-up. “That’s what he do,” DeRozan said of his teammate. “That’s what he do. When you are that type of player that is your job. He is going to get everyone involved in the game and he’s going to score. We all do a great job of reading that and understanding [that] when he has it going we are going to ride him.”

Game Rap: Raptors 103, Cavaliers 99 | Toronto Raptors

Kyle Lowry finished with 27 points, six assists, three rebounds, four steals and a blocked shot in 38 minutes of action. He shot 11-for-17 from the floor, and went 9-for-12 in the second half, scoring 20 of his points after the break. In addition to scoring, Lowry sparked the team in the third quarter. Whether diving on the floor to get his hand on a loose ball, or tossing the ball up immediately after getting fouled in hopes of being awarded free throws, Lowry’s intensity was infectious.

Raptors edge out 103-99 win against Cavaliers as Drake looks on | Raptors HQ

On the Raptors side of things, it was a more disconcerting affair. By the end of the first half, two things were clear: Luis Scola can get things going when he wants to. He had 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting by the end of the half, and had his way from anywhere. And the second: The Raptors miss Jonas Valanciunas’ relatively easy to produce offense. Without him, the team relies on, yes, one-on-one play and timely three point shooting to make things work. It looks great when it works – as it did to keep the game close – but for the tight first half, and stretches of the second, the Raptors fell back to some disquieting habits. Now, maybe it’s because he’s only six feet tall, but we often forget that Kyle Lowry is a force of nature, too. While he’ll never compete with Drake’s charm, or LeBron’s otherworldly aura, Lowry can take over a game just as easily. Well, maybe not as easily since it’s clear Lowry has to work extremely hard to make it happen, but tonight was one of those nights. “I was concerned getting that look [in his eye] sometimes means trouble,” said coach Dwane Casey of Lowry after the game. “But he did a good job of closing it out, he kept the pace, he kept the tempo after stops which was big.”

Cleveland Cavaliers lose 103-99 to the Toronto Raptors on Drake Night | Fear The Sword

Turnovers were one of the biggest stories of the first half. The Cavs turned the ball over seven times to the Raptors two, largely in part to the occasionally erratic play of Jared Cunningham and the rust of Mo Williams returning from an ankle injury. It was a little surprising to see the Cavs not post up more in the first half, especially with the absence of Jonas Valanciunas. Luis Scola or Patrick Patterson can’t handle Kevin Love in the post and it felt like a little bit of a missed opportunity. Although I can see how the team would gravitate to the perimeter with the number of open looks they were able to generate. The second half the Raptors continued to make a living at the free throw line. They continued to attack the basket and get the whistle. A combination of and ones, big threes and a couple bail out calls were ultimately too much for the Cavs to overcome as they eventually ran out of steam. A career night out of Bismack Biyombo was an unforeseen development. Overall the Cavs bigs performed poorly in protecting the paint and the amount of easy buckets Toronto got created too large of a mountain for Cleveland to climb, especially when they weren’t frequently rewarded for their own takes to the basket.

Recap: Toronto 103, Cleveland 99 (or, That Point Guard is Ripped) | Cavs: The Blog

52-28. That was the paint scoring advantage for the Raptors. It allowed them to overcome their horrible free throw shooting and inconsistent three point defense. The Cavs couldn’t stop Kyle Lowry from getting into the paint. Lowry bullied and stutter-stepped his way into the lane for 27 points and six assists. When it comes to Kyle Lowry, the stats are secondary. His physicality is consistently amazing. He takes on much taller players with force. He attacks opposing ball-handlers with a fury. Lowry is one of my favorite players to watch because it is clear that he is misery for the opposition. It’s a shame Delly wasn’t good to go for this contest. Lowry versus Delly should be required viewing. In fact, the Raptors provide many intriguing matchups for the Cavs. We saw what Carroll versus LeBron looks like last spring. The first quarter of this matchup featured a battle between Luis Scola and Kevin Love. Biyombo vs Tristan is interesting for contractual reasons as well. The Raptors could be a pain for the Cavs come playoff time. Ah yes, Bismack Biyombo. I love the guy. Many of us here at C:tB have pushed for his acquisition in some way or another over the past few years. He showed his value in this contest. Taking over for the injured Jonas Valanciunas, Biyombo provided great rim protection on defense and active rebounding and rolling on offense. He and Lowry provided the punch to close out the game. I know the ship has sailed, but how much does he make again? How many drives to the hole did Tristan allow? Ok, I’m done. No need to go there.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ road woes continue as Toronto Raptors win 103-99 | cleveland.com

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey acknowledged he’d been struggling with how to scheme the Cavaliers’ offense. Do they double James and leave their defense exposed, or do they attempt to play him straight up. “That’s been a thought the last couple of days,” Casey said. “You got to live with something. So, you try to stop everything, and you end up stopping nothing.” It was a mixture of doubles and single coverage, but primarily defensive specialist DeMarre Carroll took the assignment on his own and did an admirable job. James scored a team-high 24 points and was 11-of-12 from the line, but he was 6-of-16 from the field.

Raptors 103, Cavaliers 99: Raptors pull away in fourth quarter to hand Cavs their fourth loss of the season | Ohio.com

Cunningham struggled most of the night against the former All-Star Lowry. Cunningham finished the night just 2-of-10 from the floor and frustrations bubbled over late in the third when Lowry and Cunningham began jawing under the basket after Cunningham missed a couple of lay­ups. Lowry, a known trash talker, gave Cunningham a little elbow and Cunningham responded with a one-armed shove.

Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan power Toronto Raptors past Cleveland Cavaliers: DMan’s Report, Game 15 (photos) | cleveland.com

The Cavs’ performance was encapsulated by a sequence late in the fourth quarter. With 3:45 remaining and the Cavs trailing, 91-85, Tristan Thompson powered into the paint against DeMarre Carroll and missed an ugly jump-hook. Thompson looked to a referee for a call, but he was begging: Carroll played solid defense. Carroll rebounded and flipped to Lowry, who bolted over the timeline with Thompson alongside. Lowry kept going, leaned into Thompson and made a layup and drew the foul. Lowry sank the free throw for a 94-85 lead with 3:38 left.

 

Delon Wright finds Scott Suggs to seal the deal. #WeTheNorth

A video posted by Raptors 905 (@raptors905) on

What transpired in Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room following disturbing loss to Toronto Raptors | cleveland.com

Before the media was granted postgame locker room access, the Cavalier players were addressing the team’s lack of toughness, heart and defensive awareness that was displayed in the fourth quarter. LeBron James and James Jones demanded more. “It wasn’t a team meeting. It’s just another game,” Mo Williams said of the postgame team chat. “When you lose games, we just discuss things we could have done better and we need to do going forward. That was basically it.” The Cavaliers were neck and neck with the Raptors for three and a half quarters before Toronto went on a 9-0 run to create separation to eventually pull off the victory. Head coach David Blatt said he felt fatigue and their numerous injures played a factor in the loss. “I thought that we got tired for obvious reason,” he said. “We are very shorthanded. I thought our guys played hard. I thought we ran out of gas.”

Delon Wright giving us his best Demar Derozan impression. #WeTheNorth

A video posted by Raptors 905 (@raptors905) on

Toronto Raptors conquer 1st place Cavs on Drake night | Raptors Cage

DeMarre Carroll had the job on the self proclaimed “world’s best player” and boy did he make that statement look silly. David Blatt did as usual and rested James in the late 3rd, early 4th part of the game but when he was brought on to make the difference Carroll among others shut it down. The Cavs combined to shoot just 44% from the field this game with the Raptors making them work for just about every possession. The Raps did a solid job defending the rim with Biyombo in the middle holding James to just 5 fourth quarter points. What matters is the Raptors got key stops when it mattered and rode to victory.

Not much left for Drake to do other than become the Toronto Raptors’ Jack Nicholson | National Post

Before we get too cynical about the whole enterprise, Drake brought his mom to sit beside him in his courtside seats. You cannot stay mad at that. Still, we are getting to the point, following the Raptors’ 103-99 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, where we have to wonder where this marriage of convenience is going. It is easy to anticipate Drake will have a significant role during all-star weekend in February; that sort of event is made for his presence. The uniform alternates will also be a staple for years to come. What else is there for Drake to do in this role with the team, whatever there is? It was widely reported that the Raptors pulled back from a gold-happy colour scheme for the rebrand, and that nonplussed Drake. Regardless, the redesign is done. And we can now safely say that Drake’s light tampering that targeted Kevin Durant a few summers ago at a concert — remember that? — is not going to pay off. The notion that Drake’s involvement would seriously influence free agents was always a silly one.

Raptors continue to embrace relationship with music icon Drake | Toronto Sun

While Drake is not omnipresent or hands-on, the Raptors organization remains thrilled with the association nonetheless, knowing it does nothing but help grow the team’s exposure, marketability and the way it is viewed by players around the league. “He’s a special person. There’s no doubt. For somebody in the industry, whether it’s our industry or music, to stay on top all the time, it’s hard,” said Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri, pointing out that creativity in both fields is essential. Drake is a big fan who keeps himself up to date with what is going on on the court for the club, but he’s not going to be involved in basketball decisions anytime soon, despite his enthusiasm.

Raptors edge out 103-99 win against Cavaliers as Drake looks on | Raptors HQ

On the Raptors side of things, it was a more disconcerting affair. By the end of the first half, two things were clear: Luis Scola can get things going when he wants to. He had 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting by the end of the half, and had his way from anywhere. And the second: The Raptors miss Jonas Valanciunas’ relatively easy to produce offense. Without him, the team relies on, yes, one-on-one play and timely three point shooting to make things work. It looks great when it works – as it did to keep the game close – but for the tight first half, and stretches of the second, the Raptors fell back to some disquieting habits. Now, maybe it’s because he’s only six feet tall, but we often forget that Kyle Lowry is a force of nature, too. While he’ll never compete with Drake’s charm, or LeBron’s otherworldly aura, Lowry can take over a game just as easily. Well, maybe not as easily since it’s clear Lowry has to work extremely hard to make it happen, but tonight was one of those nights. “I was concerned getting that look [in his eye] sometimes means trouble,” said coach Dwane Casey of Lowry after the game. “But he did a good job of closing it out, he kept the pace, he kept the tempo after stops which was big.”

Drake leaving his mark in role with Raptors | Sportsnet.ca

When the Raptor-Drake marriage was formalized by (now) outgoing MLSE president and chief executive officer Tim Leiweke there were all kinds of connect-the-dots scenarios that tickled the fancy of Raptors fans. Wasn’t Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant a Raptors fan when he was a kid? Wasn’t he a Drake fan now? Hey, maybe, just maybe, Drake could convince Durant to sign with the Raptors when he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2016. If only it were that simple. The odds of Durant coming to Toronto are slightly better than me getting a shoutout in Drake’s next single, but not all that much. There are limits to what Drake can do, as a team “employee” when it comes to interacting with players under contract with other clubs. Drake found out the hard way when his playful appeal to Durant from the stage at OVO fest last summer earned the Raptors a tampering fine. In practical terms what Drake provides Ujiri is another tool in his toolbox when it comes to connecting with the NBA’s elite. He moves in the same circles they do. They’re as impressed with his success as a worldwide musical phenomenon as he is with theirs as masters of the athletic universe.

Wright gives glimpse into future in dominant 905 debut | Sportsnet.ca

“I just tried to use the ball screen into the paint because I was going to shoot at the last second but I kind of saw him open and I’m trying to make the right play,” Wright said after the game. “He made the shot, so I’m happy about that.” With the exception of that game-defining dime he dropped, just about the only negative to be found from Wright’s performance was his meagre three total assists on the night. However, for the majority of the game he was so effortlessly getting to the basket that the best shot was the wide-open lay-up he gifted himself nearly every time he decided to drive to the hole. Additionally, there’s still an adjustment period on his part with his new team and where his new teammates like the ball. “That’s a hard position [point guard] to play in the NBA and the D-League,” Mermuys said. “Running a team, being an extension of the coach on the floor and kind of running the show out there.”

Toronto Raptors: Using The D-League The Wright Way | Hoops Habit

Wright, for example, has played in just four games with Toronto. He’s played about 10 minutes total, which is barely enough time to do anything but get his feet wet. There is only so much you can learn sitting on the bench of an NBA team. Yes, there are important things you can learn while on the bench. You still get to practice with the team, you can talk to veterans, you have constant access to your head coach and the like, but ultimately, the only way to improve yourself is to keep working. And that means being able to play. Young bucks like Wright have nothing to lose and everything to gain from being sent down to the D-League. It’s not a punishment and it shouldn’t be considered one. It’s an opportunity to play, grow, and then come back stronger and better the next time you’re called back to play on your NBA team.

Carroll keeps his shoe game strong on and off the court | TSN

“I got these one designer shoes,” said Carroll. “I want to say they’re Louis Leemans. They’ve got rhinestones. I ordered them in from Paris. It took me like four weeks to get those shoes.” For Carroll, a deal with Adidas is a move closer of achieving the goal of having his own signature shoe. Following seeing their likeness in a video game or on a trading card, a personalized shoe is the next goal in line for many athletes. “I feel like the next step for me is probably – if I can’t get my own shoe – getting my logo on my shoes,” said Carroll. “So I feel like getting the logo on my shoes is the next thing in line.”

Fantasy Weekly: Lowry continues to excel | NBA.com

The Raptors’ point guard has dominated opponents to begin 2015-16 with averages of 20.1 points, 2.7 3-pointers, 4.6 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.7 steals in 35.4 minutes. He’s shooting a career-best 40.8 percent from 3-point land and 89.6 percent from the free throw line. After being selected on average with the 26th pick, he ranks fifth in Yahoo! fantasy ahead of James Harden, Anthony Davis, LeBron James and other superstars.

NBA RUMOR: Raptors Trade for Taj Gibson? | Outrageous NBA Predictions

The proposed trade will send Gibson to Toronto in exchange for power forward, Patrick Patterson, and possibly some draft picks.

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